Every Teacher Needs This--A Word Study Box of Tricks

Updated: Jul 16, 2020


Every teacher needs a Word Study Box of Tricks! If you don't already have one, I'm here to help you get started. If you do have one, I'm here to help you add to it.

Word Study is necessary as part of your whole group literacy instruction but it is crucial when meeting with small groups of students and conferring with individual students. It’s important to equip yourself with word study tools so you will be better prepared to immediately meet student word work needs. You need a Word Study Box of Tricks!

BTW…word study activities are a great time filler when the school assembly is cancelled at the last minute or the cafeteria is running behind or today’s school picture schedule has changed…AGAIN! OR…word study activities are great for when students are finishing breakfast in the classroom, you are taking attendance, during morning announcements and getting settled for the day. You get the idea! Word Study can happen at any time during the day.

Back to that Word Study Box of Tricks…

Students love word study because it feels like a game, but teachers are creating intentional experiences in which students are constructing and deconstructing words to notice and play with word chunks and word parts.

Just be sure your word work activities are appropriate for your grade level and the reading levels of your students. Now remember…intermediate students don’t want to be walking around the room to find words that start with A or B or C or…

Students also need weekly differentiated instruction with word work within their small groups. When planning your small group instruction each week, insert word work as part of the routine. Word work must be relevant and within the context of the small group reading or small group writing.

Do these scenarios sound familiar?

Picture this…

You’re working with a group of 5 students who are reading in the Fountas and Pinnell range of M N O. The texts at this level have more text and fewer illustrations. The pictures do not always give obvious clues to more difficult words used by the author. As you listen in to their reading at the guided reading table, you notice the students struggle with the “bigger” words because they are not noticing the smaller word parts and familiar roots. So, you dig into your word study box of tricks and pull out a Making Words lesson. This will be the first of many weekly Making Words visits because you need these students to start noticing familiar word parts and chunks and understand how they are used to build bigger words.

Another group of 3 students are reading at a Fountas and Pinnell range of H I J. You’ve noticed that 2 members really struggle when they encounter words with the <str> blend. So, you bring in letter tiles to create as many words with <str> as possible. You record those words on word cards and begin a sort. BAM…word experience created!